Breaking down the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth chart heading into the offseason

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Cushman
1 year ago
After a few weeks with little of note going on in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, we’re nearly at the busiest part of the hockey calendar. In about three weeks, we’ll have qualifying offer deadlines, the entry draft, and free agency in quick succession to fill our appetite for Leafs news.
For now, though, we remain in a waiting period as the Stanley Cup Finals approach with not much to say regarding the Maple Leafs in terms of news. That means it’s the perfect time to get everyone up to date on where the organizational depth chart stands heading into the 2022 offseason, what areas still need to be addressed, and what to expect to come down over the next month and a half.
For starters, all unrestricted free agents have been already removed from the depth chart to give a proper view as to where things stand and what needs to be accomplished.
Beginning at the NHL level, there is a lineup that can be produced with in-house options already that would be NHL quality for the opening of the 2022-23 season. That being said, we can fully expect some pieces to shift around and additions to be made. While restricted free agents @Pierre Engvall and @Ondrej Kase are useful pieces that I’m sure the Maple Leafs would like to keep around, both are arbitration-eligible and could cause some hurdles depending on what they are asking for. Engvall is very likely to stick around, but Kase’s combination of injuries with his arbitration case could result in the Leafs looking to non-tender him as we near the qualifying offer deadline.
Elsewhere at forward, @Pontus Holmberg temporarily fills in at 4C with a lack of other options currently under contract, but this is an area that will almost certainly be addressed. Holmberg is an intriguing prospect coming off of a strong year in Sweden but could use time in the AHL to adjust to North America prior to filling in a fourth-line role in the NHL.
On defence, the Leafs have a strong group already compiled. The Leafs have five NHL quality defencemen under contract, plus @Rasmus Sandin and @Timothy Liljegren who are RFAs. Though we could still see movement here if someone such as @Justin Holl is traded, defence is the aspect of the roster where there is likely to be the least amount of change.
That brings us to the goaltending situation. @Petr Mrazek remains on the depth chart for now, but with his poor play and injury troubles last year, all expectations are that Toronto will look to get out from his $3.8-million cap hit. Whether that comes in the form of a trade with a sweetener or a buyout remains to be seen, but I doubt we see Mrazek on the depth chart in a month’s time.
Diving deeper into the rest of the depth chart, @Erik Kallgren slides in as the backup for now on the NHL roster, but I would expect the Leafs to acquire two goaltenders that push him back down to the Marlies roster. @Joseph Woll is expected to miss the beginning of the year which will open the door for Keith Petruzzelli to earn minutes early in the season at the AHL level. I would anticipate Dryden McKay and Luke Cavallin to begin the year with the Newfoundland Growlers, while @Ian Scott will go non-tendered. Whether Scott remains in the organization is yet to be determined, but he won’t be doing so on an NHL contract at the very least.
There are already quite a few defencemen in the system at the AHL and ECHL levels for 2022-23. Some room will be created if @Joseph Duszak and @Chad Krys go non-tendered as I currently expect (Krys due to a lack of significance, Duszak due to the way things ended this year). With @Carl Dahlstrom already signed for next season and the likes of @Filip Kral, @Mikko Kokkonen, @Kristians Rubins, @Axel Rindell, and @William Villeneuve all vying for minutes, one veteran addition to the defence is likely but not much more than that.
At forward, this is where a lot of building is still yet to occur. Many signings will be made at the AHL and ECHL levels to fill out rosters, but the core of the 2022-23 Marlies forwards is already in place with the prospects under contract. The Marlies will need at least one veteran centre (something they desperately missed in 2021-22 when @Michael Amadio and @Adam Brooks were claimed) and potentially two wingers as well, depending on how much they want to trust the likes of @Max Ellis, @Dmitry Ovchinnikov, and @Pavel Gogolev in top nine roles.
Just a note regarding the Growlers, expect them to feature more Leafs prospects in 2022-23. Last season, Pavel Gogolev was the only NHL-signed player to appear for the ECHL affiliate. With the likes of Ovchinnikov, Ellis, and Villeneuve all making the jump from different junior leagues to the professional ranks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them spend time with the Growlers to give them additional minutes while also playing depth roles on the Marlies.
As the offseason goes along, I’ll be updating the organizational depth chart on Twitter after every move (@Kyle_Cush) and doing a more in-depth breakdown like this one every few weeks. Be sure to keep an eye out for them as we rapidly approach the busiest time on the hockey calendar.
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